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Thieves ‘miraculously’ not killed in failed heist at decommissioned Perthshire NATO spy base

Former RAF SATCOM Ground Station at Balado Bridge.
Former RAF SATCOM Ground Station at Balado Bridge.

Police have said it was a “miracle” nobody was killed in a failed heist at a decommissioned NATO spy base in Kinross-shire, which caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Officers have confirmed crooks illegally entered the radar base at Balado, dubbed “The Golf Ball” due to its distinctive shape, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The thieves attempted to steal live wires at the former base, which is currently on the market for £750,000.

The unsuccessful raid left the premises in need of thousands of pounds worth of repairs.

The entire compound is surrounded by a burglar-proof double layered security fence and still contains an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile warning radar.

The large dish antenna is still intact and can be rotated and elevated to point in any direction.

Inside the ex-MoD spy base, doors were built to withstand a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

The former RAF SATCOM Ground Station. Balado Bridge, Kinross.

However, it was not the espionage equipment the nocturnal raiders were interested in but the metres of electric cabling, which was still live.

Police say cables in seemingly abandoned buildings are often left live and it can be fatal to interfere with them.

A spokesperson said: “We are currently investigating an incident which happened at the former radar station at Balado near Kinross (the ‘Golf Ball’ building).

“Sometime before 4.30am on January 19, the building was broken into and electrical cables were cut with the intent to steal them.

“As is the case with many buildings which are thought to be empty or disused, the cables were still live.

“These cables were carrying 11,000 volts and it can only be described as miraculous that nobody was killed or seriously injured in carrying out this incredibly dangerous act.

“Their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful as nothing appears to have been stolen, however the damage caused has been valued as well into four figures.”

Opened by Princess Anne in 1985, the site and its familiar fibreglass radome was manned by around 50 soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals until 2006.

The site, which had its pricetag slashed last year has previously attracted interest from developers looking to converting the site into an Eden Project-type attraction, as well as others looking to turn it into a golf academy, a driving range, a brewery and a fish farm.

Kinross-shire ‘golf ball’ ex-NATO spy base goes up for sale for cut-price £750k

A rugby field sits in the grounds and fishing rights for the stretch of the South Queich Burn which runs through the complex are included in the package which is up for sale.

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